If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-J.R.R Tolkien

13 December 2011

Too-good-to-be-true Muffins with Red Onion Jam and Blue Cheese

 Ha so only about a week later than planned I finally have made my muffins with the glögi-spiced sweet onion jam and blue cheese. So tasty I have already had three...

 I am taking part to Chocochili's food challenge with this recipe. The challenge was to use glögi (mulled wine) in a recipe or create a recipe for glögi. I came up with the idea of using glögi in red onion jam, and asked my boyfriend for instructions when I made it. I made mine quite sweet and fruity with the glögi and cherry liquor and it tastes great just with a piece of cheese on it's own.  He traditionally makes an onion jam for Christmas but I think my version is much better. Don't tell the chef that though...

For the muffins I used Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's savoury muffin recipe as a base and added my own ingredients. I have made muffins before with this recipes and they always turn out delicious! I like my muffins savoury and cheesy.

Red onion & blue cheese muffins
makes 12

Use baking paper to make cups for the muffins. Cut/ rip squares that fit your muffin tray, use some warm water and crunch to soften them and place in the muffin tray ready for the dough mix. (Can use ready made cups or just pour the dough straight onto a buttered tray but these look more rustic and save you from a mess)


250g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
80g butter, melted and cooled
200 ml buttermilk
2dl of Red onion jam
150g blue cheese, preferably crumbly
(I added some grated cheddar on top)

Mix together the dry ingredients.
Mix eggs, butter and buttermilk together in an another bowl.
Fold in onion jam and blue cheese carefully, not too much to make sure the muffins come out light.
Spoon the dough into the muffin cups.
Bake for 18 minutes in 200C degrees.

Enjoy!! Best muffins ever!!

07 December 2011

Red Onion Jam with Mulled Wine

December's blog challenge is so interesting I have to take part again! This time with something a little more challenging than my mom's macaroni soup. Congratulations to Chocochili who won November's challenge, her blog is one my favourites, not least because of her amazing food photography! Her choice for the challenge was glögi, Finnish version of mulled wine. The idea was to share your glögi recipe or use glögi in cooking. We start drinking glögi as soon as it arrives in the shops in September, so by December we're already quite fed up with it. I decided to make up something different, and spent a few days thinking how to use glögi in something savoury.

Red onion jam is made in our kitchen a few times a year and so I thought I would make a more Christmassy version of it, finally making some savoury muffins with the onion jam and blue cheese. I'm making the jam tonight and the muffins (which will be the challenge recipe) tomorrow. The jam takes a couple of hours to make and it's simmering as I write this post.

Red Onion Jam with Mulled wine
Measurements are estimates, add,change or reduce to your liking!

6 large red onions, finely chopped
A bottle of readymade mulled wine or glögi (I had Kaskein Marja Juhla glögi, 0,75l)
1 dl Berry liquor (I happened to have some Estonian Cherry liquor in my cupboard)
1 dl Port wine
You can use what you happen to have, or buy some cheap, full bodied red wine, but remember to add more sugar
3 dl  Brown sugar
Couple of dashes balsamic vinegar
Star anise or other spices used in mulled wine, that you like. Star anise is my favourite

Assorted liquids found in the cupboards
Lotsa onions!
Mix all the ingredients in a big pan, bring to simmer at medium heat and keep simmering until the liquids have evaporated and the onions are soft and sweet. Ready!

Serve with cheese, in a sandwich, fill a quiche with it or as a side dish with anything you think it would go with. You can also fill some cute little jars with it and give to other foodies as a gift. Keeps for a couple of months or so in the fridge.

I will post my muffin recipe tomorrow, with which I will be taking part to the monthly blog challenge.

30 November 2011

Getting in the Christmas mood...

I think I have always been a Christmas person. I love making my own Christmas cards, I actually enjoy Christmas shopping, the songs make me sentimental and I love the food. And there must be fairylights and candles out at least a month before, especially now when there is no snow to brighten the terrible kaamos days. 

So Christmas has arrived to our home in these past two days with a star in the window, a little decoration here and there, bowls of candy (must have Quality Street and Fazer green marmelades) and gingerbread. What I love about Finland is that you can buy the gingerbread dough frozen, supereasy! (I once nearly broke a food processor making my own dough in England. There was smoke coming out of it...) Glögi(Finnish mulled wine) we started drinking already in September. 

I took some photos today that I am planning on getting printed and making my cards with this year. Hope you like! 

Just over three weeks until Christmas!!!
(Can't wait to see my family)

15 November 2011

My ultimate comfort food: Mama's macaroni soup

I spotted a food challenge in Kulinaarimuruja blog with the subject being comfort food. I've never taken part to these challenges before but it's a great way to get inspiration so I might make this a habit! So, comfort food, I started thinking. I love cheese, I love mash, I love fish pie, pasta, soups and so on, but I think that the REAL comfort foods come from our childhoods, and they are certainly not fancy foods. So I'm sharing my mom's recipe for a milky, salty, thick macaroni soup, known as makaronivelli in Finnish. It was the whole family's favourite when I was little, and nobody elses mom could make it as nice as mine. Some added sugar to it, which was unheard of! This is how it's made...

Cook around 3 dl macaroni for a little longer than the packaging suggests. 
It's meant to be overcooked to be soft.
Drain the water away and add milk so that it covers the macaroni.
Simmer on low/medium heat, don't let the milk burn.
Mix 2 tbsp flour with a little milk, add in to thicken the soup.
Simmer until desired consitency is achieved.
Season with salt and a knob of butter, slice of nice rye bread on the side.


The times I've made this myself are not many, as to be real comfort food it has to be made by my mom, which happens now about once a year. My British boyfriend absolutely hates the soup, and I think it's a forgotten dish already for most Finns as well. But I love it and I'm proud of it! Really enjoyed having some tonight actually...

22 October 2011

Hearty chickpea stew with mushrooms and spinach
Inspired by Movida in Melbourne

Olive oil
Can of chickpeas 
2-3 dl of vegetable stock
Chopped tomatoes or passata- optional
Fresh spinach
Fennel seeds (Cumin would also work)
Smoked paprika-optional
Couple of slices of white bread, cubed -optional

Start by sauteeing the mushrooms in the olive oil, add some salt to remove moisture from the mushrooms. 
Add garlic and onion, and after a couple of minutes the chickpeas as well. 
Add half of the stock and let simmer on a low heat. 
Don't add too much liquid unless if you want to make a soup (which wouldn't be bad either I'm sure).
Add the optional chooped tomatoes and passata and spices, as well as the bread.
The bread just gives the stew a more glutenous consistency so it's entirely optional for those more carb-conscious of us.
Taste and when the stew starts to seem ready add the spinach and mix until spinach has just wilted.

We had a similar dish when we ate at Movida in Melbourne, Australia. It's a suprisingly tasty dish, the appearance is modest to say the least but it's seriously goooooood. I didn't really use a recipe or measure things - which is how I tend to cook to be honest. I am sorry for anyone who likes accurate recipes, I'm afraid you're not going to get them from me!  It also gets better in the fridge so you can keep it for a few meals. I used the last bit of my batch for an omelette type dish with cheese and it was awesome. Could also work as a side dish. I think this is going to be a new favourite in our kitchen, hope you like it too!

Shroomy risotto

A couple of days ago I was going to visit my friend's new place and was given the permission to take over her kitchen. This often happens when I visit people, no one seems to mind, but it makes me wonder if everyone thinks I am a kitchen-nazi or something. I also love cooking but often I just make food for myself and those times you can't really call it cooking, if I just make salads most days. So it's always nice to make a small effort for something more interesting. I could say that risottos have become my favourite thing to cook for friends and family as I always get compliments for them. This time I took some black chanterelles (suppilovahvero in Finnish) with me and we shopped for the rest together before my friend introduced her kitchen to me. 

My awesome shroomy risotto 
Serves 4 (or 2 if you are seriously hungry!)

Mushrooms (Chanterelles, ceps, button mushrooms, whatever you have!)
2 tbsp Oil
3 dl Risotto rice
Garlic, depends on how much you love it
1 Onion
5 dl Good vegetable stock
2 dl  White wine (could use red as well)
100g Parmesan
Fresh sage
Salt & pepper

Panfry the chopped mushrooms in butter, add salt and pepper. Set aside for later.
Place the oil and risotto rice in a non stick pan, add garlic and onion when the pan gets hot and the rice is nicely glaced. Add 1 dl of veg stock and let simmer. Keep adding the stock and white wine gradually until the rice is cooked for your liking (taste!), usually takes around 15 minutes. With the last bit of stock add the mushrooms, parmesan and sage, mix well, take off heat and enjoy in a couple of minutes! 

We tried two wines with the risotto, both worked but we preferred the white. (Although the red one had that cute picture of a dog on it, so extra points for that).

White wine recommendation: Wolfberger (W)3, Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Alsace, France
Red wine recommendation: Trifula, Nebbiolo, Barbera d'Asti, Dolcetto and Pinot noir, Piemonte, Italy

I also have to recommend the band we saw after our dinner, French Films were playing at Tavastia and they were great! I hope they become the next big thing in Finland, beautiful music. Here's a clip for those who would like to check it out:

07 October 2011

Butternut squash soup

 Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with a Moroccan Twist

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1large onion, chopped roughly
3 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
knob of butter
dash of olive oil
ras el hanout, to taste
star anise, to taste
salt & pepper to taste

 1 litre good vegetable stock

 Mix all ingredients in a roasting dish,
cook in the oven in 200 C for 45 minutes or until the squash is soft and cooked through.
Go for a walk and enjoy the autumn while you wait. 
When you come back enjoy the scent of the star anise and spices.

 Place the vegetables in a pan (remove star anise), add vegetable stock and mix with a stick blender.
Add more stock until you have the desired consistency.
Heat up and enjoy!

04 October 2011


And only six months later I am back! The whole summer passed without a laptop and hence no opportunity to process my photos hence no inspiration to blog. I feel an inspiration to write more now that the laptop situation is fixed and the weather is getting colder, making it cosier to stay at home wearing woollen socks and drinking tea. Perfect time to start looking back at the lovely summer we had...

We had our summer holiday at the end of August, destination Berlin. It seems like everybody loves Berlin and I was convinced we would too by all the recommendations from credible sources. (Check Pumpkin Jam's post in Finnish of her trip for example) We stayed at Excelsior hotel near Zoologischer garten, which I had found just by browsing online. It was a bargain for a four star hotel, but we found it lacking personality and while the location was nice as such being very close to the U-bahn, S-bahn and busses, we were enjoying the eastern Berlin a lot more and found it a little annoying to have to travel quite a long distance to our favourite brunch cafe in Prenzlauer berg.

We spent a week in Berlin, mostly hanging around, eating LOTS, seeing the sights, shopping, getting a bit lost and just enjoying. Here is my Best of Berlin list:

1. Mauerpark
Berliners know how to spend their Sundays! At Mauerpark there is a huge fleamarket with lots of quality stuff, food stalls and good atmosphere. Behind the fleamarket there is a park where you can find all sorts of bands busking, people having picnics and chilling out. There is also an amphitheatre where a huge crowd gathers every Sunday for the Bearpit karaoke. I have never ever enjoyed watching karaoke as much as I did there.

2. Dinner in the dark
What an experience, recommend to everybody! We booked a table at Nocti vactus in advance and chose to have the surprise three course menu for around 30 €. We were a little apprehensive before the dinner wether it would be worth going or not, but as soon as our waiter Thomas led us in to the darkness of the dining room we were amazed. You really cant see a thing and you have to rely on all your other senses. You don't know what the food looks like, or in fact what it is so you really TASTE the food. After each course Thomas would ask us what we thought we had eaten and then correct us, if necessary. I was quite proud of my taste buds, I believe that practising with wine tasting has made me quite accurate. At one point we got company as unexpectedly an another couple was seated at our table. It was truly amazing to to start talking to strangers in the darkness and get to know them without seeing them. The night was unforgettable and so much fun. Thank you for the great company if you are reading this!

3. Brunch
Nearly every morning we had a great breakfast, the best ones were at Anna Blume in Prenzlauer berg and Schwarzes cafe quite close to our hotel. The three-tiered brunch is a must at Anna Blume, and well worth the wait. The cake selection looked amazing but we never had any room in our bellies for them...Next time. Schwarzes cafe had a lovely garden in the inner court and a good selection on different breakfasts. I made my own ordering smoked salmon and avocado, the best combo ever.

4. Getting lost
In Berlin you never know what is behind the corner. There are bars and cafes in courtyards, behind the East side gallery there is a beach bar, in Kreuzberg a Kiosk bus and a cafe in a vegetable garden.
Next some pictures starring the culinary delights of our visit... enjoy!

 Pad thai and a green curry at Mai Thai in Prenzlauer berg. Quite expensive but pretty tasty.

Prater, our favourite beergarten. Hundreds of people, pretty lights, Berliner Weisse and pretzels.

 Anna Blume three-tiered brunch. Divine.

 Beach bar behind East side gallery. I tried Moet Ice for the first time, quite refreshing but basically a waste of  Champagne.

 Amazing sushi at Sasaya in Prenzlauer berg.

 4€ Caipirinhas at Wohnzimmer.
 Outside Spanish restaurant Tres tapas where we enjoyed some really good red wine and tapas section, plus good tips from our waitress on what to see and do in Berlin. 

 Kjosk in Kreuzberg.
 Mexican lunch at Santa Maria in Kreuzberg. Loved it!! So happy that there is something like this also in Helsinki, might do a post about it later...

 Cafe in a vegetable garden in Kreuzberg. 

 Saturday market in Prenzlauer berg.

 Andy had a taste of the famous Berlin snack, Currywurst. Verdict: not the best you can have in Berlin.

 This is a crap picture from our African dinner at Massai. Interesting,would love to try again.

 Had to try one of these! Ice tea with bubbles. 

 Tasty focaccia type snach at Mauerpark fleamarket.

 Brunch at Swarzes cafe.

 Caffe & Gelato ice cream... Amazingness!

Proper German food on our final day. This was at restaurant Bavarium in Europe center. Schnitzel, spätzle and strudel. We like! Washed down with a glass of Riesling and a beer of course.

I loved the graffiti, observing was fun as you never knew where the next piece of art would be.

 Berlin, we will be back!!!